If you suspect that stress might be keeping you from losing weight, this article will show you signs you’re gaining weight because of stress.
People respond to stress differently. In some people, it causes rapid weight loss, in others, it causes weight gain.
When a person gains weight, the general assumption is that it is a result of either their diet or their lack of exercise. While this is to a large extent true, did you know stress can be the unseen and unheard culprit behind your weight gain?
If the scale keeps reading high despite your best efforts, then you must be gaining weight because of stress.
And how can you tell you are gaining weight because of stress? Here are some signs:
Signs You’re Gaining Weight Because of Stress
1. You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
If your thoughts are keeping you up all night, it means you are stressed. Stress interferes with quality sleep.
The correlation between sleep and stress has been proven by a study in Sweden that found that people who worked in a stressful environment experienced insomnia more.
Lack of sleep caused by stress wreaks havoc on your hormones, particularly cortisol, ghrelin, peptide, and leptin.
This interference can lead to weight, according to a study published in Science Advances.
2. You Struggle with Uncontrollable Cravings
A 2015 study linked chronic stress directly to cravings, which then affects your BMI.
Stress prompts the release of both adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline will, in fact, impede hunger and make you eat less. This is the reason why you tend to lose appetite when stressed.
However, the effects of adrenaline wear off when the stress is long-term, leaving cortisol.
Cortisol, on the other hand, has the opposite effect – it causes you to eat, and not just eat any food – but the high-fat, high-carb foods that skyrocket your calorie intake.
3. You Skip Workouts
You are gaining weight because of stress if you are finding it hard to keep up with exercise routines you previously enjoyed. Stress has a way of making you pass up on even the simplest of activities.
In fact, a study with 2,483 participants found that stressed people suffered fatigue and low energy, which reduces the chances of exercising.
On normal days, exercising requires a lot of effort. With stress added to the mix, it can be even harder to work out.
4. You’re an Emotional Eater
Are you consistently eating in order to curb stressful feelings? That could be the reason you are gaining weight because of stress!
A study conducted among stressed participants showed that 61% of them experienced an increase in appetite, while 38% noted a decrease. The rest were relatively unaffected.
Most people resort to eating as an escape when they are stressed. More so, stress might interfere with the reward system of the brain, so much so that food seems to be the ultimate reward.
As a result, you seek food at all times and in the process start ignoring your portions.
5. You’re Gaining Weight Around Your Waist
Stress causes belly fat. The hormone cortisol, which has been conveniently named the ‘stress hormone’ encourages the deposition of fat around the belly area.
If you seem to be gaining fat around the waist and upper thighs, it could be a sign of stress weight gain.
6. You’re Making Unhealthy Food Choices
It can be hard to make rational food choices when you’re stressed. Eating clean requires discipline and the mental strength to say no to junk food.
In fact, your urge to eat unhealthy foods is your body’s defense mechanism against stress. Your body does this in good faith, according to this study.
The temporary happiness from these foods is meant to distract you from your emotional distress and help your body cope better. In the process of all this, you end up gaining weight.
7. Your Hunger Comes So Suddenly
On normal days, your hunger takes time to build up as the effects of your last meal wear off.
When you suddenly feel hunger even if you were perfectly fine just moments ago, the hunger is more emotional than physical.
These bouts of sudden hunger could be a contributing factor to stress weight gain.
8. You Keep Eating Even After You’re Full
Physical hunger can be quelled even before you finish the food on your plate. But do you have the urge to eat, even when you are clearly full? And you keep eating until you feel uncomfortable?
This study conducted on 129 people found that people who are stressed tended to eat way more even after they were full. That is the reason why you are gaining weight because of stress.
9. The Nature of Your Hunger
Another sign you gaining weight because of stress is the way your hunger presents itself.
Normal hunger might cause your stomach to growl, or comes in pangs. Stress-caused hunger, on the other hand, isn’t physical. Rather, it resides in your brain.
This kind of hunger is even harder to switch off because it is in your head, unlike physical hunger you can quell with a drink of water.
That is why you might find yourself giving in to hunger all the time.
10. Your Eating Habits Are Causing You Distress
If you are eating normally to satisfy your hunger, and you know when to stop and the right portions, you will not feel bad for eating.
But if feelings of guilt and shame follow soon after every eating episode you may be gaining weight because of stress, according to Mayo Clinic.
This happens because most people often feel powerless when it comes to appetite control and before they know it, they have eaten more than is necessary. To get over these feelings, they again eat more.
11. Your Weight Gain is Accompanied by Pain
The American Institute of Stress lists physical pain in various forms as the symptoms of stress.
Weight gain is not supposed to be painful. But if besides adding weight you are experiencing unexplained neck aches, muscle spasms, dizziness, rashes, heartburn, and nausea, you might be gaining weight because of stress.
The Bottom Line
Life does not guarantee us a stress-free existence. A little stress is just the spice of life. But sustained, perpetual stress can not only have a negative impact on your weight but your digestive health, reproductive health, immunity, and general well-being.
It is best to avoid triggers of chronic stress and also learn to control it before it gets too far.
Exercise is one of the best ways to control stress while losing weight. Use these fat-burning home workouts to fight stress while melting away the excess fat.[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]